Superintendent Recommends $3.3 Billion Operating Budget
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight has recommended a $3.3 billion Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2025. It continues the district's focus on preparing all students to thrive in their futures. The funding will maintain key investments that support Board of Education priorities to advance student achievement in math and literacy, agreed employee association agreements providing at least a 3% salary increase next year supporting recruitment and retention, and investments to support school safety and enhance communication between schools and families.
Released Thursday, Dec. 14, Dr. McKnight's budget recommendation represents a $157 million increase—5%—over the current budget (FY 2024). The recommended increase includes $99.4 million to fund negotiated salaries and healthcare costs.
The conclusion of federal COVID-19 pandemic emergency relief monies under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) program puts the district at a critical juncture, facing what is known as the "ESSER cliff." The current year (FY 2024) budget relies on more than $125 million in investments and next year, that funding will no longer be available. The superintendent seeks to move $33 million in support for essential programs and personnel currently funded by these dollars to the base budget, such as:
- Social workers
- Parent community coordinators
- Restorative justice specialists
Other important factors driving the FY 2025 operating budget are inflation costs of $15.6 million, and funding to support the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future legislation at $8.2 million.
To meet these needs and maintain a prudent increase over this fiscal year (FY 2024), MCPS has required central offices to identify reductions of 8% of their operating costs for next year (FY 2025). These required savings plans are estimated to realize $14.3 million and 73.6 full-time equivalent positions in reductions and will limit some functions due to loss of staff.
"Following a record local investment by County Council last year, we are seeking a fiscally responsible, but necessary, increase that keeps our commitment to staff for their raises and to continue to build on the targeted work we are doing for student academic achievement," Dr. McKnight said. “The Board of Education rightly prioritizes math and literacy following pandemic losses and we have made sure our investments, curriculum and programs do just that. The future is bright for all of our students and that work remains our North Star.”
The Montgomery County Board of Education will hold public hearings on the budget on Thursday, Jan. 18, and Thursday, Jan. 25. The Board also will hold budget work sessions on Tuesday, Jan. 16, Tuesday, Jan. 23, and a tentative third work session set for Tuesday, Jan. 30, before tentatively approving an operating budget on Feb. 6, 2024.
After the Board of Education approves an operating budget for FY 2025, it will be sent to the Montgomery County Executive and County Council for consideration. The County Council will approve its final FY 2025 Operating Budget on May 23, 2024.
It is essential to keep in mind that this budget represents a recommendation offered during a snapshot in time. Given the uncertainties in budget decisions by the County Executive, County Council, and the county and state governments, adjustments will likely be made before the Board of Education adopts a final FY 2025 Operating Budget on June 11, 2023.